Monday, June 16, 2014

How To Tie Dye!

I have linked up with 4th Grade Frolics for this week's Monday Made It! This is my first MIM linky this summer and I am so excited to join in the fun!

For Father's Day, I made this super sweet personalized picture for my hubby! I shared in yesterday's post how to make these. If you want to see how I created it, click here!

Oh my goodness, I just have to share with you these super adorable Tie Dye t-shirts that we made for Field Day. All the parents loved being able to recognize their kiddo out on the field by finding our shirts. We did the bulls eye design in aqua and lime green! In fact, my entire grade level chose different colors and we all wore our tie dye shirts on Field Day. They turned out so cute and were so EASY to make. Plus, every kid got their own shirt and a special little last memory in kindergarten! They are a little time consuming and take some planning but the process is easy.
Now I must confess, I did not take attempt pictures when we completed this project. I was a little preoccupied figuring out the ins and outs. So, I  recreated these at home. I was wanting to test out some new designs anyways so thought I would snap some pictures and share the process with you.

Before you get started!

  1. Allow your self 2-3 days to complete your tie dyed t-shirts.
  2. Pre- wash you white cotton t-shirts. This is a very important step to help the dye absorb into your shirt.
  3. Choose the dye you want to buy. They are many options out on the market. RIT is very popular and so is Tulip. I highly recommend buying the powder. It is cheaper and makes way more dye!
    4.* Squirt bottles. You can buy dye in pre-made squirt bottles but I do not recommend buying these for large projects. You can buy simple squirt bottles at Wal-Mart for $0.99. Buy one for each color of dye and I also suggest buying matching color drinking pitchers to mix your dye in. These are easy to find in the summer months and it makes it easier on you to know what color dye is in each pitcher. (I have created a Tie Dye storage container in my room to keep all of these materials to use each year.)
   5. If you are not using pre-made squirt bottles, you will want to go ahead and mix your dye. Be prepared to use your dye within 45 minutes of mixing. The dye will begin to lose its concentration after that time period. I do not suggest buying the pre-made squirt bottles unless you are doing 1 or 2 shirts. I bought the powder for my class and ONE package was able to dye 25 shirts and 23 bandanas and I still had left over dye in the pitcher! Plus, the powder is cheaper!
  5. You will need lots of rubber bands, rubber gloves and a great attitude! :)
  6.  Prepare a work area. I suggest an outdoor area and placing down garbage bags so the dye doesn't leave stains behind or placing your shirts on a raised metal rack so the dye doesn't blend with other colors.


Choose Your Design!

There are many different ways to use your rubber bands to create fun designs. For today's project, I have 3 shirts and will use 3 different designs for you to see the final product. The final product is towards the bottom of this post!
  1. The Bulls Eye!:
  • Pull the shirt up from the center and gather to make a log shape
  • Use your rubber bands to bind and make sections
2. The Swirl
  • Pinch the shirt in the middle and twist into a flat spiral.
  • Bind with your rubber bands into sections.
3. Stripes
  • Pleat the fabric into stripes. Go from shoulder to shoulder.
  • Use your bands to create sections.

Time to DYE!

For this at home project, I bought the Tulip Tie Dye Kit. I DO NOT recommend buying this product unless you only have 1 or 2 projects to do. I ran out of dye quickly and could not create the patterns that I had hoped to. You will be able to see the designs but the color choice was not what I wanted. :(
Soak your shirts in water. It is easier for the dye to soak in. If you are pre washing them the same day just skip the drying part. Also, to help with dying you want to be sure your rubber bands are not on to tight. For the skinny small bands, I only tied it twice. It is also important to make sure you get the dye into the folds of the shirt. If you do not do this you will probably have large white areas on your shirt.
Take everything outside. I had a garbage bag for each shirt, my dye and gloves all within reach.
 Now the reasons for those bands!! I use those sections to help me plan out my color choices. I dyed each section a different color. You can make patterns or even make it a rainbow shirt!
As you can tell on this shirt below, I ran out of dye on the SECOND shirt. If you weren't convinced before...don't buy the tie dye kit!
After you have dyed your shirts. DON'T FORGET THE BACK!! Let them sit out side for about 30-60 minutes.
After they have sat outside, take your garbage bags or plastic bags and wrap each shirt up individually for about 6 hours. The longer they sit, the darker the color.

Time to OPEN those bags!!

After they have sat for at least 6 hours (I was really anxious so I took them out right at 6 hours), take your bags to the sink. You will need to rinse each shirt out until the water runs clear. After you rinse out each shirt, wash them in warm water with a little detergent. When the cycle is finished, check your washer for any dye. If there is dye in your washer just run the load again. (Both times I have washed my shirts, I have not had any dye in the washer. I would suggest just making sure you rinse the shirts really well.) And VOILA, your very own tie dye shirts!


THE SWIRL (This is the shirt where the dye was running is noticeable by the white area but you can the really neat design!)


I should note that I took these shirts out after 6 hours. I was just a little excited to see the final product. The dye lost a LOT of intensity as I rinsed out the dye. This is why I recommend waiting over night before washing the dye out.



Tips for Tie Dying

  • Pre-wash all of your shirts. Cotton fabric seems to hold the dye the best.
  • Buy the powdered dye. It takes an extra minute to make but is cheaper and give you more dye. I was able to use 1 dye packet of each color for 25 shirts and 23 bandanas and still had left overs!
  • Invest in squirt bottles and pitchers to hold your dye. Squirting the dye on the fabric makes it way easier for kids of all ages to participate!
  • Dampen your shirt before dying.
  • Apply your dye within 45 minutes of mixing.
  • Use a sharpie marker to write names inside of the shirt. The dye will not cover it up and you will be able to read after washing. If you want your kids to have the shirts they dye do not forget this tip!
  • Do not tie your bands too tight on the shirts and make sure to get dye into all of the folds.
  • Place your shirt on a raised wire rack while dying if you do not want your colors to blend.
  • Wear GLOVES!
  • Have a bag for each shirt after dying to wrap.
  • It is best to leave your shirts in the bags over night. The longer it sits, the greater the intensity and less dye will rinse out.
  • Be adventurous, try something new. You can't mess up tie dye. Try a new pattern. Just band it up and which way!
  • Rinse your shirts until the water run clears.
  • Wash your shirts in warm water and check your washer that there is no dye residue. If there is dye in the washer just rewash.
  • Wear your shirt with pride!
This was a lot of fun and it makes me want to try other products and more complex designs! I just might have to add that on my summer to do list! I hope you found these tips and pictures helpful and that you will decide to do this fun projects with your kiddos (yours or your school kids).These are perfect for field day, field trips, 1st day of school activity, summer camps, add it to your summer bucket list and just because!! I can't wait to hear about your tie dying experiences!!

Me and my super awesome assistant in our tie dye t-shirts and bandanas!!



  1. I've always wanted to try tie dying but never found really good instructions! This is fantastic!! I've pinned this for future use!!
    A Tall Drink of Water

  2. Your tie dye shirts turned out great! I used to do shirts for the kids when I ran a summer camp. It was always neat to see how different each one turned out!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. Thank you!! I know I love hoe unique each kid's shirt can be!!


  3. Thanks for this awesome tutorial. It's been awhile since I've done one!

    Down the Learning Road


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